FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT


A group of women run a service for women which allows wheelchairs to be hired, reports K. SARUMATHI

INNOVATIVE IDEA:Bhooma Srinivasan (second from right), president of Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy Women’s Association, Abhiramapuram. ''Wheelchair and walker for hire'' is a programme the association is promoting aggressively.Photo: M. SRINATH

INNOVATIVE IDEA:Bhooma Srinivasan (second from right), president of Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy Women’s Association, Abhiramapuram. ”Wheelchair and walker for hire” is a programme the association is promoting aggressively.Photo: M. SRINATH

A fractured leg had left Usha immobile, confining her to her home for three months. She had errands to run, children to look after, functions to go to, but none of these tasks she could complete sitting at one place. Buying a wheelchair for a short time was out of the question.

She could neither afford the cost. As her problem was only temporary, she would not have any use for it later. Had she known about the Wheelchair for Hire programme of Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy Women’s Association, she would have had a comfortable recuperation period and ease of movement.

Run by women for women, this association has rendered 25 years of service towards emancipation of women, mostly from the underprivileged class. Among its other initiatives, wheelchair and walker for hire is a programme the association fervently promotes.

“It was started five years ago. The idea came from one of our members, Sundaramalli, who due to age-related problems became wheel-chair bound for some time. Once she was able to walk she had no use for the wheelchair. It was then that an idea to rent out wheel chairs to people with temporary immobility struck her. The association thought it a good proposition and thus the programme began,” says Bhooma Srinivasan, president of the association.

The wheelchairs are rented out on a monthly basis for Rs. 200 and in case someone needs it for just a day or two, they have to pay Rs. 50. The association also gives walkers on rent for Rs. 100 a month and Rs. 25 for a shorter period.

“The rates are brought down according to the paying capacity of the people who approach us. We also take a refundable advance from first-timers, who must present an identity proof, generally ration card, before taking a wheelchair or walker home,” Bhooma adds. The association presently has three wheelchairs and three walkers for rent. “We had eight earlier, but due to the constraint of storage space we gave a few away.

We donated two wheelchairs and two walkers to Anandam, an old age home in Avadi. As people take it for a short period of time, there is no problem of non-availability,” she says.

Even if all wheel chairs and walkers are rented out at the same time, the association’s parent organisation, the Women’s Indian Association, has few more to give out. “People can come and collect the wheel chair or walker from our office in Virugambakkam, Thiruvanmiyur or R.A. Puram.”

Muthulakshmi Reddy Association also conducts environment awareness campaigns, road safety and first aid training for girls, literacy programme for slum children in which they give scholarships to poor girl students and conduct leadership programmes for them. They also undertake a nutrition programmes in 50 anganwadis across the city.

For more details, contact Bhooma Srinivasan at 94442 51013.

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